I have always been a sucker for romance. Two people, falling in love, and wanting to spend the rest of eternity together has fascinated me to no end. As such, I often have cherished the greatest romances that appear in fiction. Wesley and Buttercup, Han and Leia, Aragorn and Arwyn, Chuck and Sarah. This also applies not just to Western fiction, but to the world of Anime as well: Miyamura and Hori, Nasa and Tsukasa, Ashitaka and San. But there is one romance within anime that has stuck with me, more than any other, and has surprised me with how impactful it is. It is the one between Yuta Togashi and Rikka Takanashi from Love, Chunibyo and other Delusions! This anime charmed me from the moment I saw it, from its wonderful humor, delightful characters and the sweet romance that develops between the two main characters. But having gone back to it, and examining it thoroughly, I have discovered that this show is far deeper and more meaningful than I first thought. More than any other show of its kind, it has one of the best love stories in the history of anime and dare I say fiction itself. Let me explain.
The Psychology of Rikka
To start, it is important to set the stage by explaining the events that led up to the start of the show, primarily from the perspective of the main girl, Rikka. When the show starts, we see her as fully entrenched in chunibyo, with an eyepatch covering her right eye, black frilly dresses, and spouting lines about the “invisible boundary line”, “the Priestess” and most often “Eye of the Wicked Lord”. But only a few years before this, Rikka was a fairly normal young girl, though not much is known about how she was before the show started.
The one thing we know for certain is that her whole life is suddenly derailed by the death of her father. Being a young teenager, both her mother and older sister Toka do not tell Rikka about the severity of her father’s illness: Rikka said, “I thought he was going to get better, they didn’t tell me that he was getting worse”. Toka claims that she did it to spare Rikka’s feelings, thinking her sister was too young to handle the bad news, but concedes it most likely made things worse. Rikka was suddenly thrust into the situation of having to face the reality that her father was dead from only thinking he was sick, and it all felt unreal.
As what happens very often with sudden and unexpected deaths, trauma of this sort often has the effect of feeling like it isn’t real, that there has to be a mistake, even if the individual feeling it knows full well that it is real. During at least one moment after her father died, when her mother and Toka were crying, Rikka flat out proclaims that he’s not dead, that she cannot accept that this has happened. Rikka knows he is dead, but refuses to accept it. With her mother taking time off to mourn and Rikka moving in with Toka, Rikka is trying her best to adjust to life, but doesn’t know how.
Enter Yuta Togashi. Or rather at this stage, Dark Flame Master! During the height of Yuta’s chunibyo phase, Rikka sees him and is immediately impressed by his vivid imagination and sense of control he has over the world around him. She is so impressed that she begins to develop her own world, her own abilities and an inner strength that gives her life purpose.
One interesting note on this is, at least in the Dubbed version, whenever Rikka talks in her chunibyo voice, it is deeper and more authoritative, with strong conviction and unwavering resolve. Her real voice is actually higher pitched and even whiny at times. This is due to Rikka using chunibyo as a way to have control over her life, a source of power. All of this new found confidence, however, comes at a heavy cost: no one in her family understands what she is doing or why. Her mother was said to, “Not be able to handle it”, and her grandparents’ responses range from her grandmother thinking she is playing a game to her grandfather exhibiting outright hostility.
But it is her relationship with Toka that takes the worst hit. With their mother unable to take care of them due to their father’s death, Toka had to be not just Rikka’s big sister, but also her caregiver, and as such was responsible for Rikka’s wellbeing. With Rikka’s chunibyo making life for Toka difficult, as Rikka would often be obtuse and rarely reality based, Toka viewed her condition as being selfish, even malicious.
This view came to a head when, upon visiting the empty lot where their family home used to be, Rikka still refused to accept what had happened and challenged Toka to an imaginary battle. Toka viciously slapped and kicked Rikka, all the while berating her, “How long do you plan on keeping up this nonsense? Is it fun? Just acting like a child, being selfish and immature, is it fun for you? Do you hate momma, is that it? Do you want to make Grandpa and Grandma unhappy? When will you be satisfied?” Toka is always the one who is at the forefront of getting Rikka to give up chunibyo, no matter what. She sees chunibyo as a childish fantasy that Rikka is abusing to make herself feel better at the expense of everyone else. All Toka cares about is seeing Rikka be done with it, because she believes it is the best move for everyone, including Rikka herself.
But what Toka doesn’t realize is that Rikka is not using chunibyo as simply an escape: she is using it as a coping strategy. Rikka is not blind to the fact that life isn’t easy for those around her, as she vehemently denies that she either hates her mother or wants to make her grandparents miserable. The earnestness in her reply shows that the accusations are hurtful to her, even hinting that she is not trying to make things worse for her family, but her chunibyo is still very important to her.
For her, the everyday and the mundane becomes fantastical: an umbrella becomes the Schwartz Shield (and all of its sundry versions), an ordinary cat is her familiar, Chimera, and a simple pump water can is known as Heinrich Waser. Chunibyo even becomes a way for her to explain certain aspects of her life that are difficult or embarrassing to her, like claiming that “the red fruit drains my magical abilities” when talking about her dislike of tomatoes, or how she did poorly on a math test because “It is difficult to convert the numerical system of this world to the one I am accustomed to”.
To an outsider, these things would seem like a childish game, but as I noted, Rikka feels more confident when expressing things in these terms, as it helps put some distance between what is actually in front of her. When push comes to shove, her chunibyo breaks down and you see the desperation come out, along with an anxious and often scared look. Her chunibyo is her barrier from how uncomfortable and overwhelming life often is, but it is also her way of making life better, as everything takes on new fantastical qualities. She is not ignoring reality; she is often enhancing reality to make it more palatable. Even her imaginary battles often incorporate elements of the real world, distorted to fit how she is seeing things right now.
The thing is though, reality always wins in the end. With Rikka’s fight with Toka at the site of their home, Rikka projects a mental picture of their home, but as she is hit into it, she sees that the image is flawed: everything looks like it is made of paper and soon it all burns away, leaving nothing, as she knows the house is gone. However, she still holds onto the concept that the invisible boundary line exists and won’t move from it. For her, the invisible boundary line is a hope that somehow, somewhere, she can see her father again, and she desperately clings to that.
There is, however, one person that understands her in a way no one else does: Yuta. Though at first embarrassed at her utter chunibyoness, he starts to realize how special she is when she stumbles upon the boxes of chunibyo stuff he is planning to throw away. While Yuta insists that it is “stupid garbage” and that none of it matters, Rikka says that it does matter and pleads with him not to throw it away. Rikka is using her normal voice when she says that it matters, not her chunibyo voice. This side to Yuta, and by extension Rikka, is important, even vital. This plea convinces Yuta to hold on to it, though he says it is only to sell it later.
Yuta slowly starts seeing how much this side of hers impacts her. With everything from studying, to food, her interactions with her fellow students and especially with himself, Yuta sees that chunibyo is not only her lens, but also a shield. The real Rikka is scared and uncertain of herself, and, as he soon discovers, is painfully shy. She falls apart quickly in the face of studying, to the point of nearly being in tears, and when she is embarrassed, will often retreat under her umbrella, strike a fighting pose, or try a slide kick. She only has 2 contacts on her phone, being Dekomori and Toka, saying that these are “the only two beings that acknowledge my existence in this dimension”. Through Yuta, however, Rikka says that she can now get Nibutani and Kumin as well, showing that she is starting to branch out thanks to him.
Yuta then starts using chunibyo as an incentive, like promising to create a cool email address for her in exchange for studying hard on the math test. He even recognizes why Rikka is using chunibyo: his rebuttal to Toka at the house site is to say that, even if what she says is true, that Rikka should stop doing chunibyo and just accept reality, what good will it do? Just saying, “Reality is tough, so deal with it” won’t help soften the blow of reality, especially for someone as sensitive as Rikka. Rikka is trying to face reality, but in her own way. It might be taking a long time, and can be difficult for those around her, but she is trying. Yuta is willing to work with Rikka and help her with that. When they are up on the roof of the school, Yuta acknowledges that Rikka isn’t using chunibyo just because she thinks it’s cool, but instead because it helps her deal with what happened with her dad.
However, Yuta soon learns how important it is to let Rikka go at her own pace. Toka visits him and says that it is irresponsible to let her keep being a chunibyo, even though Yuta is convinced that it is because of Rikka’s chunibyo she is able to function in the first place. Since Yuta has felt responsible for Rikka up till this point, often helping her refocus, and getting her to act appropriately in public, he feels that he has to tell her to stop. He is hoping that this will help her be the person that she needs to be in order for her family and social life to be in harmony. At first things seem to be going well, as one of the first things that happens after he tells her to take off the eyepatch and stop being a chunibyo is that Rikka sings her father’s favorite song at the festival, and is soon making friends with the other girls at school, often in very innocent and blunt ways.
But soon problems start to arise: Rikka stumbles through how she is supposed to greet people, she severs her ties with Dekomori, and even dampens her own love of the lights of the city by dejectedly saying, “But I know they are just the lights from the cars”. Yuta tries to convince himself that what he is doing is right, but more and more is realizing that something is wrong. He even berates Dekomori by saying, “I say those things to make her feel better, but what good will it do?” Only after Dekomori runs off crying while saying she knows that it is all fake does he start crying as well with regret, realizing that something is wrong in the way things are developing.
Only when Rikka doesn’t come back to school does he realize how badly things have become. However, when he finds an old letter from his chunibyo self does he realize why it is so important: he isn’t a normal boy, he is special, and Rikka isn’t normal either, nor should she try to be. Kumin confirms this by revealing that Rikka became a chunibyo because of Yuta, that he inspired her to face life and trust that the power she could have would help her in her life.
As Yuta races to Rikka in order to set things right, we witness one of the most poignant and heart wrenching scenes in the show. Rikka is sitting alone in her room, reminiscing about how she became a chunibyo. She instinctively thinks of Yuta, but he isn’t there. She then notices her succulents need watering, so she picks up her water can. And suddenly begins to sob. This scene is fascinating in a heartbreaking way. Rikka has suppressed everything that could even remotely be called chunibyo, for the sake of her family, and because Yuta asked her to. But here, alone in her room, after visiting her father’s grave, with the reality of it setting in, without her friends nearby, she picks up what was once an item of great magical ability: The Heinrich Waser. But now, it is nothing more than a pump water can. How desperately she must want to call it anything but a water can. But she can’t. Because if she does, then she is letting down Toka. She is letting down her mother and grandparents. She is letting down Yuta. Even when she is alone, she is trying so desperately to be the person they want her to be. But reality is too much for her, and so all she can do is cry. This scene, more than any other, shows how little Rikka’s family actually understands her. Toka’s assessment of Rikka being selfish and immature, that she is playing a childish game out of spite, cannot be farther from the truth. Rikka is sacrificing everything because she believes that she has to, to make everyone else happy. But this is her breaking point: she cannot even water her plants without bursting into tears.
Thankfully, Yuta shows up moments later and says to Rikka, first having her address him as Dark Flame Master and addressing her as Eye of the Wicked Lord, then asks her to “Make a sacred pact with me!” When her grandfather intrudes and threatens to get a gun against Yuta, who he thinks is an intruder, Yuta tells Rikka to jump, asking her, “Will you return to mundane reality, or would you rather change reality with me instead?” She takes a leap of faith and, unlike the last time she jumped, where she comically lands in the hedge, instead falls into his arms and they embrace. He then takes her to the beach, where along the way Rikka is still trying to suppress her chunibyo by saying the beautiful lights are just from the boats. Yuta then uses his chunibyo to show Rikka the invisible boundary line, and allows her, in her own way, to finally say goodbye to her father. Yuta knows that Rikka needs this to help her not just deal with the world, but to make it truly marvelous. He knows what this means to her, and knows that her life is so much better when she is able to be herself, to grow and mature at her own pace, and not to be forced to grow.
This topic comes back up in the movie, Take on Me! when Toka asks for a specific time when Rikka will be done with chunibyo, and while Yuta has a rash estimate, he soon relates the story of him finding a chrysalis and it being damaged, which caused the butterfly within to emerge with warped wings. For Yuta, he is not willing to try rushing things again with Rikka, as he saw what happened when he tried to force Rikka to be the girl everyone else wanted: forcing her to be a butterfly before she was ready. Yuta wants Rikka to grow at her rate, because he realizes how sensitive and shy she is, but more than that, he realizes just how special she is. And it seems that her mother has grown to appreciate that as well. At the end of the Rikka Version recap movie, her mother relates to Yuta the reason she is named Rikka: it means snow, as it snowed when she was born. But more specifically she notes that, just as no two snowflakes are alike, as they are all unique and beautiful in their own ways, Rikka is a unique individual, a very different soul, but one that is beautiful nonetheless. To that, Yuta wholeheartedly agrees.
Falling in Love with a Chunibyo
But Rikka’s mind is only half of the story here, and it is the love that Yuta and Rikka have for each other is the other beautiful half. The romance with them doesn’t start until partway through the first season, but is thoroughly explored in the second season. We first see them starting to fall for each other is when they go back to their apartment after Rikka and Toka’s confrontation. On the train ride back, Rikka and Yuta talk about Yuta’s past and how he became the Dark Flame Master. Rikka makes a bold first step by taking off her eyepatch and by looking at each other’s eyes in the window, she proclaims they have made an unbreakable bond. After getting a convenience store dinner and planning to call it a night, Rikka gets very close to Yuta’s face, which of course makes his heart race. It leads to the question of whether or not he could fall for a chunibyo.
Soon enough, though, Rikka herself is having unusual thoughts as well. As she is having trouble sleeping, she watches a show on tv, which has a couple kissing. This leads to her shouting variations on “My heart is racing and it won’t stop!” with each successive time getting more high pitched, finishing with “I don’t know!” when asked why by Yuta. This is Rikka’s first foray into romance, and yet she has no idea what is happening. It scares her, as her chunibyo has no experience in this field to help explain why this is happening. Though the night ends with her drawing a symbol on Yuta’s hand, she does wake up early and goes to his room, and strokes his forehead. Given how nervous she is shown later with physical touch, this is quite the bold move.
The next day has Rikka trying to deal with these new feelings in the only way she knows how: chunibyo. First with Kumin and then Nibutani, Rikka is convinced that there has to be another reason, even when it is painfully obvious how she feels about Yuta. Once again she employs her classic Schwartz Shield hide and slide kick combo to dodge thinking about it, but to no avail. After an afternoon of bungled attempts to tease out Yuta’s feelings, it takes a heart to heart with Yuta, and him saving her from almost falling off the roof of the school, to have Rikka be honest with her feelings. The way that she clings to him tightly after she is safe is precious, and seeing him smile as he knows she’s safe is touching.
One of the first moments, though, that really explores their unique relationship is after Yuta saves Rikka. When Yuta and Rikka head under a bridge to save Rikka’s umbrella and Rikka is fascinated by the lights, Yuta plans on telling Rikka he likes her. But soon Rikka says it first, and then hides behind her umbrella, embarrassed at her sudden confession. Yuta then asks Rikka, in chunibyo fashion, to enter a pact with him and become his lover. Rikka accepts, but is so nervous and shy, she can only rest her head on his back, and when he asks if they can hold hands, she offers him her pinky. While it isn’t much by most people’s standards, Rikka is very obviously outside her comfort zone. Yuta, however, accepts this, and is willing to hold pinkies with her.
Their relationship stymies for a while, but when Rikka is accidentally evicted and has to stay with Yuta, Yuta decides to push, just a little. He arranges a date with Rikka, going to the aquarium, and is able to convince her to hold hands with him. However at the end of the date, Rikka expresses her apprehension with further physical contact, and her confusion at her lack of understanding of what lovers are supposed to do. When Yuta thinks that she doesn’t want to date anymore, she hurriedly says that she still does want to be with Yuta, but is overwhelmed by everything she is trying to find out about love. But she happily concedes that she is so happy with their day, that she must have peaked and is now marked for death! Yuta then proclaims that he and Rikka have a special pact, in that they do not need to concern themselves with what other couples do, that theirs is unique. He also relates to Nibutani later that he needs to “let Rikka be herself”. Though it isn’t helped that Yuta the very next morning has an erotic dream with Rikka, only to wake up and find that Rikka has stapled herself to the ceiling and promptly lands on him.
But soon enough Rikka has to deal with a new emotion with love: jealousy. Shichimiya, the girl that got Yuta into chunibyo, comes back into his life and Rikka is left trying to figure out her own place in Yuta’s life. Things become especially difficult when Shichimiya repeatedly gets close to Yuta, causing Rikka to have a near panic attack. It only gets worse when Shichimiya touches noses with Yuta. Though he insists it means nothing, as it was just a normal greeting that he and Shichimiya used to do, Rikka is on the verge of breakdown because of it. In response to this, he promises that he won’t go near another girl again and Yuta and Rikka touch noses. Slowly but surely, Yuta and Rikka were growing closer to each other.
The next big event happens when their class goes on a trip to Tsukushi, but not without some issues. Rikka, for her part at least, is thoroughly enjoying the fantastical elements of the trip, from the bullet train “moving at light speed” to the palace that she names “Dark Draconis Palace of Secrets” to wearing her night vision goggles in broad daylight only to get blinded. However, Rikka’s shyness and Yuta’s feelings of embarrassment towards chunibyo make it so that every time someone mentions that they are a couple, both become nervous and at one point seem to be avoiding each other. In fact, the uneasiness gets so bad that, when pressured by Nibutani, Rikka reacts as she always does when she is embarrassed: first by hiding her face, then slide kicking, followed by running away, even when Yuta calls out to her.
Yuta later relates to Nibutani that since Rikka is so flustered with the idea of romance, he doesn’t want to pressure her. However, later that night, Rikka sneaks into the boys’ room to see Yuta, and in a panic before the chaperone sees them, both hide in Yuta’s blanket. This is the closest they have gotten to kissing, and while both are nervous, you can see that both want this. Rikka is even closing her eyes as she leans in. Unfortunately, they are lipbocked by Nibutani, though she is doing it so Rikka can get back to the girls’ room unnoticed.
The night, however, yields a few more surprises. Rikka, in her own chunibyo way, explains that she felt like there was something stopping her from getting closer to Yuta, but was able to overcome it with great effort. Yuta correctly guesses that it was because of her shy nature, and comforts her by saying that he was feeling the same way. This is another great example of how well Yuta understands Rikka, and how kind he is towards her. He understands how much effort it took just for her to overcome her own shyness to be near him and be willing to kiss him, even if they didn’t get there.
But what happens next is truly a special moment: as they say good night and Rikka heads down the hall to the girls’ room, she stops, turns around, takes off her night vision goggles and kisses Yuta on the cheek. What I find interesting about this scene is that she took off her night vision goggles completely, almost like she was allowing a part of her chunibyo to fall away in order to be closer to Yuta. She had bought those with most of her allowance money because they looked cool and were heavily involved in her chunibyo, especially during the trip. But she took them off in order to kiss Yuta, even if only on the cheek.
The next day, they mean to spend the whole day together, and things start off fine, until Shichimiya randomly shows up. She once again clings to Yuta, and then apologizes, citing habit. While Rikka tries to be civil and offers her some money after Shichimiya mentions she dropped her bag, eventually Rikka becomes distraught after Yuta aids Shichimiya in gettting her bag back and Shichimiya gives him a token, prompting Rikka to exclaim that Yuta has broken his promise and runs away in tears. It is only later after wandering the city, meeting up with Nibutani and being invited to the docks by Shichimiya that Rikka is able to have a chat with the Magical Devil Girl. While Shichimiya admits she has had feelings for Yuta in the past, she notes that her romantic feelings seemed to be dampening her chunibyo desires. Since she wanted to be a chunibyo more than she wanted to be with Yuta in a romantic way, she decided to put her feelings aside. To this she poses a question to Rikka, “Do you want to stay the Eye of the Wicked Lord forever? Can you really awaken the Dark Flame Dragon?” She does concede, though, that only Rikka can be Yuta’s partner, recognizing the unique bond the two share.
When Yuta finally arrives, he apologizes for giving Shichimiya too much attention, while Rikka apologizes for jumping to conclusions and overreacting. Then another great moment happens: Yuta gives Rikka a new umbrella, since it was her birthday. She absolutely loves it, and immediately starts testing it out. When she receives a bonus pendant he made, she proclaims it has amazing power and tries to use said power on the volcano in the distance, and Yuta decides to join in. Then comes a very interesting moment, where Rikka asks Yuta if he thinks the Dark Flame Dragon can be awakened inside of him. He says that he’s not sure, but he does feel like something is there, which he admits is different from a year ago, where he would’ve flatly denied it. He is changing, becoming more comfortable with being slightly chunibyo, at least when he is around Rikka. After she asks him why he is trying to use his power if he isn’t a chunibyo, he gets flustered and says it is for some other reason. This prompts Rikka to laugh and when Yuta asks what is so funny, she simply smiles and says, “Oh Yuta, I love you.”
This is a huge moment, even though it is a brief one. Up until this moment, Yuta and Rikka have only said that they liked each other, or used chunibyo phrases like “Lover’s Contract” to describe their feelings for each other. But in this moment, with no hesitation, Rikka says simply, almost casually, “I love you”. An interesting pattern that has appeared is that Rikka is actually taking the initiative in terms of their relationship: first the kiss on the cheek, then saying “I love you”.
Soon, however, Rikka seems to be suffering from indulging in her romantic feelings, as her chunibyo “Powers” are fading. It happens when she is aiding Nibutani to thwart a “Fake Mori Summer” by trying to perform a chunibyo battle, but mysteriously nothing happens. While she blames it on shrine incompatibility, this trend continues later when the gang goes to the beach. After Rikka fails to intercept the katana of Chento, the daughter of Toka’s manager, she doesn’t put her eyepatch back on, a fact that she only notices when Yuta points it out. Afterward, Yuta has a heart to heart with Toka about how he understands how Rikka sees the world, and noting that he likes her partially because she has something that he has lost: the unbridled enthusiasm and imagination that he threw away when he stopped being a chunibyo.
Meanwhile, Rikka discovers more and more that her powers are failing, and Shichimiya shows up to talk to her about it. At this point, Rikka is nearly in hysterics when she talks about occasionally forgetting about the Wicked Lord and finding it tedious at times to wear the eyepatch. Shichimiya suggests that it might be better to give up on chunibyo altogether, in exchange for a stronger relationship with Yuta. She also presents the opposite option, that Rikka stay the Eye of the Wicked Lord forever, and relinquish the feelings that she has for Yuta. The interesting pattern is the concept that chunibyo and romance can’t exist at the same time. It is possible this is due to chunibyo being rooted in a childlike fantasy, and that romance is something decidedly more adult. Watching the interplay is fascinating, and it only gets more interesting as the show goes on.
However, the next day, Rikka reveals a fascinating paradigm shift: she believes that she can be both the Eye of the Wicked Lord and be in love with Yuta! She cites that Yuta said their pact was unique and that she would believe in the faith that Yuta has in her. Gaining a new level of power in her chunibyo, and a token that Shichimiya had, Rikka heads home, blissfully dreaming of Yuta. However, a wrinkle soon appears, as Shichimiya, much to her own consternation, realizes that she is also in love with Yuta.
Meanwhile, Rikka is sleep deprived and complains that Yuta is treating her like Toka does. While at the pool, they run into Shichimiya, who is still trying to get her mind off Yuta, but failing miserably at it. After having to fix her slipping top, Shichimiya runs away, after which Rikka splashes Yuta, claiming she has become a “cistern of bottomless fury”. Rikka once again is resorting to chunibyo to express her more difficult emotions, as she is feeling jealousy again. Toka realizes that while Rikka has noticed Shichimiya’s feelings, Yuta hasn’t. However, that doesn’t stop Rikka from reaching out to Shichimiya for help with her project, which she still won’t tell Yuta what is happening. Shichimiya, meanwhile, is losing more and more of her chunibyo desires, even to the point that her heart sticker falls off.
One great detail is that, as Rikka gets dressed up in a yukata, Kuzuha jokingly says that Rikka and Yuta are being lovey dovey, which prompts Rikka to start grinding Kuzuha’s head with her fists, just like Yuta does. Those two are a great match, aren’t they?
Meanwhile, at the festival, as Rikka goes off to continue her project, Yuta and Shichimiya end up under a shrine in the rain. Shichimiya asks Yuta to talk about what he loves about Rikka, with each time he mentions something it seems to cause her physical pain, but she begs him to keep going. The one that is most interesting is that Yuta loves the way that Rikka believes in him no matter what, with phrases like, “Yuta is amazing, Yuta has so much power, Yuta can do anything”. It surprises even Yuta himself, as sometimes he doubts his own abilities. Shichimiya describes the scene as a war, and after he says all that, proclaims she has won. That is, until Yuta comes back to give her an umbrella before helping Rikka. At that she breaks down into tears, and as she is crying, the heart sticker falls off her face completely, and she runs away.
Sadly, all of Rikka’s nightly excursions, plus getting soaked in the rain, have taken a toll on her: she has caught a cold. While trying to explain her weakness through chunibyo, Yuta is having none of it. As he tries to deal with the newly discovered fact that Shichimiya likes him but he likes Rikka, he soon is shocked to find out that Rikka has run off into the night. He learns from an old letter he found at her desk, which was his chunibyo self addressed to whoever he has formed a pact with, to help awaken the Dark Flame Dragon. Yuta realizes that this is what Rikka has been doing: going around town, at night, trying to find the last token, all for Yuta’s sake. Yuta then says, “No matter how serious you were about chunibyo, no matter how serious you were about love, you always put me first”.
When he gets there, Rikka has found his old foot cast, which he broke while having a chunibyo episode and slid on a soda can into a metal pole. Inside is the last token, but instead he embraces her and asks what she is doing. Rikka tearfully says that she wanted to prove that she was bound to him, since Shichimiya had a token, but Rikka had none, and the note said she had to. Yuta insists that she didn’t have to, and they are bound by the Absolute Contract. Yuta then gives her the token inside of the cast, which reveals a hidden message on the coins, pointing to an old tin box under the bridge. Inside is a simple black rock, but one that Rikka proclaims will release the Dark Flame Dragon. With that, the Dark Flame Dragon is “released” and Shichimiya does battle with it, venting her pent up frustration and stress and later tells Yuta that she is new and improved. She has relinquished her feelings for him, but something is off about Rikka.
It seems things haven’t quite gone back to normal, since Rikka is being more standoffish than usual. She is avoiding Yuta, and spending more time with Shichimiya. When pressed by the girls, it turns out that Rikka feels that her relationship with Yuta has stagnated, that though they are in a Lover’s Contract, he still treats her like a little kid. He forces her to study, is the one who gets her out of bed, and uses dark themed items and phrases to motivate her. Rikka feels that the only way to improve their relationship is to kiss Yuta, but her shy nature is giving her anxiety over it. When it was in the spur of the moment, Rikka was willing, but having to think about it has made the situation worse, to the point where Rikka says that she will “melt into nothingness”. The decision is made, however, to have Rikka finally kiss Yuta, and so her friends get her to go under a bridge, a common locale I have noticed, and wait for him there. However, Rikka tries to bolt, as the anxiety is overwhelming for her. Shichimiya offers her some consolation, telling her to believe in the power that she has gained by believing in Yuta, and touches noses with Rikka to give her all of her power.
Soon after Yuta shows up, and Rikka’s nervousness is showing through clearly. She flubs what she should call Yuta, and then asks him to form a Superior Contract. Yuta quickly deduces what she means, but also sees how much consternation this is causing her. She is determined to see it through even though she is very clearly freaking out, alternating between her chunibyo and real self. The first time he tries Rikka slaps his hand away, and hides under her umbrella. She next suggests holding her shoulder so she can’t run away, but then slaps his arms away and tries a trip kick only to be countered with a Yuta chop. Rikka insists it was a “momentary dark possession” but is fine now. Yuta, however is quickly losing his patience. Grasping her shoulders firmly, he leans in for the kiss, as Rikka closes her eyes and leans forward as well.
But just as he is getting closer, he stops. Rikka is crying. She then says in her very scared normal voice, “I don’t get it. I want to be close to you, I want us to do things together, but it’s so embarrassing and scary, and it makes me feel weird. I’m too scared. Why am I so afraid of this?” In this moment we get a perfect look at how Rikka sees romance: she wants it, wants to explore it with Yuta, but it is so strange and different from how her life has been that she can’t help but be frightened of it. Even she doesn’t know why she is scared of it. This feeds back into how shy Rikka is, that even the act of almost kissing the boy she likes is too much for her. This is reminiscent of the water can scene, as kissing someone is something very real, with no chunibyo substitute that can dampen the reality of it. For Rikka, she is having to face reality at this moment, and even though it is something she wants, it is too real for her. Her heart can’t take it.
But Yuta, dear sweet Yuta, comforts her and says, “Rikka, we talked about this. We don’t have to rush anything, we can just be ourselves.” Rikka insists that she has to express her feelings since Shichimiya “entrusted me with these feelings”, meaning that Rikka is wanting to embrace the feelings that Shichimiya is choosing to let go of, and if she can’t express them, it is like she is letting down Shichimiya and her sacrifice. But then Yuta tells her something: that spending time with her, whether it be waking up together, going to school, eating meals or just talking are the moments he loves more than anything, even more than physical intimacy of any kind. Yuta is so kind and caring in this scene it makes me tear up watching him. And to finish this beautiful scene off, he says, “Rikka, you will always be the only one for me.”
As the two embrace, Yuta acknowledges an interesting perspective: that the two of them are changing, slowly but surely, in their own awkward, stumbling way, but it is happening. He understands Rikka better than anyone else, and knows how much effort she puts into everything, including romance. But for now, it is good enough. Though the two do swap kisses on the cheek, which is the first time Yuta has kissed Rikka (on the cheek, though). At the end, they are willing to kiss and almost do, but the news of Chimera giving birth to kittens and the gang showing up causes Rikka to get embarrassed and bolt. So close!
But there is one more hurdle the two will face in their romantic journey. As the new school year starts, Rikka and Yuta are still together, but their relationship hasn’t progressed. That is, until Toka drops a bombshell of a decision that she is moving Rikka to Italy, where she works, and is moving all of her belongings with her. Desperate to stay together, Yuta at first suggests that Rikka improve her test scores to show that she is doing well in school. Rikka, however, comes up with every solution she can think of, from espionage, body doubles and even cheating, to avoid the only real solution: studying. She even gets so worked up she says to Yuta, “This is my grade! Face the ugly truth! Get your head out of the clouds and be more realistic!” For Rikka, Ms. Chunibyo herself to say this, is impressive. It shows how despondent she is over her inability to improve her grade.
When Shichimiya agrees that it is difficult to improve her grade enough, the gang then decide to tell Toka Yuta and Rikka eloped, in order to show how much they love each other, and the two head out the next morning. However, unbeknownst to them, Toka has found out about and seen through their plan, and has blackmailed Nibutani and Dekomori into getting Rikka and Yuta back. After a fierce imaginary fight, where Yuta force fed Dekomori milk to incapacitate her and then takes a swig a little while later, Rikka is upset at him, claiming he had an indirect kiss with Dekomori. This is another moment of Rikka being jealous, and she holds onto this for hours.
When they finally arrive in a diner in Kobe, Yuta is shocked to find out Toka is waiting for them. She says to Yuta that she was hoping that Rikka would’ve changed by now, meaning giving up chunibyo, and claims that, “Someone (who is chunibyo) loves themselves more than they can love anyone else in their world”. Toka had hoped that, by falling in love with Yuta, Rikka would stop being chunibyo. After a year, however, Toka is disappointed at Rikka’s lack of progress, as she sees it. Toka is even confused why Rikka is still doing it, even after finding the “invisible boundary line”. Yuta acknowledges that he and Rikka have an unusual relationship, but on purpose, as he wants her to grow in a way that is natural to her. Toka, meanwhile, is worried about their mother’s concern for Rikka. Yuta makes a hurried promise that Rikka will grow out of her chunibyo soon, but almost immediately retracts it, knowing he can’t promise that. He then relates the story of the butterfly, and insists that Rikka is trying hard to emerge from her chrysalis, at which Toka scoffs at the idea.
In this scene we see two very different perspectives concerning Rikka, one where Toka is only focused on chunibyo as a problem, and Rikka is being self centered and immature, while Yuta sees chunibyo as a chrysalis, a way of Rikka protecting herself as she grows to become the woman she will be one day. Of the two, however, we know that Yuta is the one who is right about Rikka. The water can incident and the near kiss under the bridge both show how hard Rikka is actually trying to progress, how hard she is pushing herself. It takes so much mental energy to do this, and usually during the times she pushes the most, she ends up in tears. Yuta has learned not to push too hard, but when Rikka goes at her own pace, things end up much better for her.
After leaving, Yuta and Rikka end up in a hotel and while looking over a cosplay screen, Yuta starts imagining Rikka in different outfits (two of which she has been in, the Santa outfit from the Christmas OVA and the Carinval outfit from the outro to the Lite episodes), to which he has a humorous pep talk from “God” (though it looks more like Odin). This is a fun little scene as it shows that Yuta is definitely thinking about Rikka in that way, and mostly likely can imagine Rikka doing something like that, if she can get past her embarrassment. A fun little scene between them as they head toward the bus stop was when Yuta says, “It’s too dangerous to stay here” to which Rikka copies him, and then says, “You were so cool!”
As they head out, and after a bout of motion sickness, Rikka falls asleep in the chair. As Yuta ponders what they will do next, he turns to her and sees that her lips are turned towards him. He then wants to kiss her, but feels it would be unfair to kiss her while she is asleep, without her consent. He settles for a nose tap, which prompts her to say in her sleep, “Bahamut”. He then imagines what it would be like if Rikka was a mother, naming their child “Bahamut” and then “Yggdrasil Ragnarok”. Though unusual, Yuta admits it would be cool, showing that he is more comfortable with chunibyo in his life than he usually lets on.
As the two reach their destination and have a day together, Yuta finds out Rikka bought a bunch of things that are all chunibyo based and scolds her for spending her money frivolously, given they are on the run. Come to find out, Rikka has some extra money from her mother, which her mother sends her from time to time. Finding out Rikka’s mother lives in Hokkaido, Yuta makes plans to go and see her, hopefully to help with Toka and also to talk to her about something. There is also a scene where Yuta stops by a cheap jewelry store and eyes a ring with a cross and a butterfly. This will be important.
As they head to a hotel, Yuta comes up with a plan: they will claim to be brother and sister, so as to not arouse suspicion. Rikka throws herself into this plan, and things go off without a hitch. That is, until she finishes her shower and realizes her robe is too short. Embarrassed and not wanting Yuta to get too close, she throws a coffee pot at his head. Yuta then says for her to use his for the time being. While in the bath, Yuta tries to figure out what it even means to be in love with a chunibyo and what to do going forward. As he comes out, Rikka has fallen asleep, but as he covers her up, she wakes up and stares at him. Yuta has an internal struggle with whether now is the right time to kiss her, showing his own anxieties on the situation, along with “God” abandoning him to his fate. But as Yuta leans in a little closer, Rikka turns away and hides under the covers. As he turns off the light, he looks at the ring box and wonders what he is doing. Yuta is very much concerned about how things are going, as it seems that everytime he wants to get closer, Rikka nervously pulls away.
After having a narrow escape from Dekomori and Nibutani in the airport, Rikka gushes about her love of planes, and even pulls another Yuta copy, much to his chagrin. As they land in Hokkaido, Rikka takes the opportunity to ask what Yuta wants to talk to her mother about. Yuta mentions that it is about the future, to which Rikka spews several chunibyo themed wrong answers, prompting Yuta to be more straightforward. He says that since he always wants to be with her, he got her a ring as a promise, until he can afford a real one. The ring is significant in its design: a butterfly as the base, which is reminiscent of Yuta’s story of the butterfly; a cross in the middle, as Rikka often sports crosses on her clothes and accessories; and a red stone in the middle, much like a diamond ring would have. In short, it is the perfect chunibyo engagement ring.
At first Rikka is hesitant to let Yuta put it on her. She even blurts out, “I’ll do it!”, then claims that “Wicked Lord Shingan said that”. As she puts the ring on, Yuta is worried that it isn’t the right size. Rikka replies in her normal voice, “It’s perfect”. This scene is one that is fascinating, as it ties into the concept that romance and chunibyo don’t mix. Rikka loves the ring Yuta has given her, but is still embarrassed by what it means, and so insists on doing it herself. Rikka’s concern for the ring is repeated several times during several stops on their journey.
While walking to her mother’s apartment, Rikka mentions that her and her mother talk about once a month, and while Rikka tells her about how impressive Dark Flame Master is, her mother seems to be responding to it. That is, until Rikka remembers the exact phrase her mother uses: “Rikka, you really like Yuta, don’t you?” This causes Rikka to deploy her dual umbrellas to hide underneath them. Even after all this time, Rikka is still nervous about her feelings. She even yells out to Yuta, “Don’t you dare try and read my thoughts right now!”
The situation with the ring comes to a head when, on the train, Rikka mentions that the ring is, “kind of strange. When I have it on, it feels like it’s absorbing my powers.” When Yuta tries to encourage her that it is a power boosting item, “for Wicked Lord Shingan”, Rikka almost seems lost for a second, almost as if she doesn’t recognize the name. She also is trying to be enthused about it, but something is stopping her. Yuta notices this, and expresses concern that she doesn’t like it. Rikka protests and says that it is “Perfect for Wicked Lord Shingan”, but it is clear her normal enthusiasm is fading. Something is bothering her. Hoping to help, Yuta says that she doesn’t have to wear it. She continues to protest and says that it is fine, but “it still feels strange”.
As the night wears on, Rikka is feeling more and more concerned over the effect the ring is having on her, even to her not wearing her eyepatch or contact lens. She calls Shichimiya, and once again hears that if she chooses to become romantically involved with Yuta, she will eventually stop being a chunibyo, and has to wonder if she is okay with that. She also surprisingly calls Toka and tells her that Yuta is going to talk to their mother about something. As Rikka makes it back to the train car, she sees Yuta sleeping. She leans in for a kiss, but as the car lurches, she accidentally bumps her head against his, though it isn’t enough to wake him for more than a moment. It seems now both sides have been tempted with kissing the other unawares.
However, the next morning a startling development occurs. When Yuta wakes up, Rikka is gone, along with her luggage, with only the ring box left behind. Yuta panics and since Rikka has turned off her phone is worried that he has lost her. Her mother soon shows up, and Yuta profusely apologizes to her, going as far as saying he isn’t qualified to take care of Rikka. Her mother, however, isn’t worried, as Rikka already visited her earlier and wanted the chance to talk to Yuta, as he asked in Hokkaido. As they talk, Rikka’s mother relates that Rikka is concerned because “everytime I’m around Yuta my heart races really fast. It feels like the more my heart races, I can feel my powers disappear on me. Wicked Lord Shingan was born because of Yuta”.
And thus we have reached the conundrum that Rikka is stuck in: she wants to be closer to Yuta, but because of that, her powers are disappearing (or so she feels). And because it was Yuta that started her in chunibyo in the first place, it feels wrong somehow that it is also because of him that her powers are fading. Another gem, however, is that her mother, though not understanding what the chunibyo phrases all mean, realizes that Rikka is trying desperately to think about so many things at once in her own unique way. This was something that earlier Toka scoffed at, believing that Rikka isn’t thinking about anything at all. Yuta understands exactly what Rikka is struggling with, and shows again how well he understands Rikka and the way she thinks.
Later, at a point overlooking the sea, Rikka is preparing to take her eyepatch off, at the insistence of Shichimiya, giving her once again the ultimatum of either giving up chunibyo and loving Yuta or giving up Yuta for the sake of chunibyo. Rikka, however, is caught between the two and cannot give either up. She says that if she gives up chunibyo, then her identity will disappear and her bond with Yuta will vanish. She says, “I’m sure Yuta likes me as I am right now. Yet, the more I think about it, and the more I like Yuta, I just… end up changing more than I thought I would. And if I’m not myself anymore… will Yuta continue loving me? Or will he grow bored of me? Will he accept me? Or walk away from me?”
In the end, Rikka declares that both are equally important to her, and to give up either would destroy her. The statement that Rikka makes is an interesting insight to the way she thinks about herself and Yuta. Rikka is such a shy and uncertain girl, who, through Yuta’s help, has grown considerably. But she is still unsteady as to who she is becoming, and is growing ever worried that she won’t be the person that Yuta wants to be with. More than that, she feels that Yuta loves her almost exclusively because she is chunibyo, which, although it is an exaggeration, is partially true: Yuta did say at one point that he loves Rikka because she is chunibyo. But to think that he would stop loving her if she stopped being a chunibyo is an unfair assessment. Kumin believes so, and insists that Rikka discuss this with Yuta so the two can figure it out together.
As Yuta arrives, and the two share a chunibyo greeting and then a heartfelt embrace, they head out on a ferry under the night sky. As they stand against the railing, with Yuta thinking about how to give an answer to Toka, Rikka poses the question that had been bothering her: if she was no longer a chunibyo, would he still love her? Yuta mentions that Toka would prefer that, but for himself, he notes that even stars don’t last forever. Humans themselves often change, and who we are now is not how we will stay. Yuta then tells her that whether she chooses to let go of chunibyo now or not is up to her, but she is going to change. This worries Rikka, but Yuta comforts her by saying that he will always be by her side, and will always love her. He then puts the ring on her finger, this time with a look of pure joy on Rikka’s face. She in turns says that, even if she changes, she will always love Yuta as well.
And then he kisses her. On the lips. She squeals and pushes him away, prompting him to ask if she didn’t like it. She says she enjoyed it, but it was too sudden to tell, and insists that they do it again. They kiss once again, and then both get embarrassed because of it. This results in yet another kiss. They then resort to letting out their stress with some good old fashioned chunibyo shouting, and then banishing reality together, after which they embrace. A patient Toka waiting onshore gets this text:
I want to fall in love, even if it is with a chunibyo!
The final scene of the series is with Yuta standing on the balcony, reflecting on how Rikka has moved into her own place, when a familiar rope descends in front of him. As he helps her to the railing, Rikka shows off the ring he gave her, as she coyly asks, “Want to see my eye?” Yuta reflects and wonders how he fell in love with her, then concludes, “I fell in love with her BECAUSE she is a chunibyo”.
A Love story for the Ages
Through all of their adventures, one constant has shone through for Rikka and Yuta: the care that they have for one another. Each one tries to see the best in each other, each trying to make the other one as happy as possible, even with something as complicated as chunibyo. But because of this, Rikka was able to find a unique place in the world, right next to Yuta. I have no doubt, if the series were to continue, these two would have an amazing life, a loving marriage and a truly unique family. These two are the gold standard when it comes to how relationships form: it is not perfect at the start, and there are certainly ups and downs to be had. There are setbacks, frustrations, a couple of arguments, and a fair amount of tears. But what always happens is that they try, and try and try until they have a relationship that is as beautiful as it is singular. I have loved this anime since I first watched it, but every time I rewatch it, I am reminded why I love it so much, and it only gets better with time. I feel a personal kinship with this anime, as I have an overactive imagination, and could see myself in many of these situations. I only hope I can find someone as unique as I am. But for now, I have full confidence to put Yuta and Rikka as one of the best couples in fiction. Besides, Wicked Lord Shingan is the strongest, after all!